El Salvador – The story I can’t really tell

When Suegra declared that she’d be traveling with us to El Salvador, I knew that drama was only a plane ride away – What I didn’t know is just how much.

I can’t give too many details or show too many photos regarding all this, out of respect for Carlos, but here are the basics of what happened.

A Tía picked us all up at the airport. After a quick roadside stop for agua de coco, we went straight to Carlos’s childhood home in Soyapango.

I was kind of expecting open warfare, gunshots, tattooed mareros dealing drugs on street corners in broad daylight – but Soyapango was pretty much as I remembered it – a rough neighborhood to be sure, graffiti on walls and barbed wire on rooftops, but calm on the surface, at least at that moment on that particular day.

I sighed a sigh of relief. It wasn’t the safest place for us to stay, but I was prepared to spend time in the neighborhood – to sleep in Carlos’s modest childhood home for several nights and let the children experience the real El Salvador that you can’t get while staying in a hotel.

We pulled up to Carlos’s house and the outside looked uncared for, but not to the point that I worried. The house badly needed a fresh coat of teal paint – mareros had taken care of that in their own way with red graffiti.

Inside the house, was another story all together. For one thing, it was extremely hot, (even locals complained about the heat while we were there.) We arrived from the airport needing to use the bathroom and dehydrated, but the house’s water was turned off. Once our eyes adjusted to the darkness of the house, we became aware of its condition. Due to lack of maintenance, the house had deteriorated in various ways – it seemed abandoned. Suegra had sold most of her furniture, (who knows why), and what was left was dusty, dirty, infested by rodents – and totally unsanitary. I was fully prepared for poverty, but when it comes to cleanliness, (especially for my children) – I don’t compromise.

Carlos’s face registered the same look of shock, disappointment, sadness – anger. To see his childhood home in total disrepair, and to have to show his children that this is where he lived, really hurt him.

For an hour or two, Carlos quietly tried to figure out what to do – stood in the window of the enclosed patio, shaking his head and sighing. It was clear we couldn’t stay there.

Finally Carlos confronted his mother – asked what happened, why she hadn’t kept up the house – why she had lied to us about its condition before we arrived. She became defensive and told him nothing was wrong with the house – that it was virtually the same as it had been when we visited 12 years ago – that in fact, she felt it was actually improved. She denied the damage, safety hazards and unsanitary conditions that were right there before our eyes, told us we were being snobby. It was clear Suegra was seriously delusional or that she thought we were incredibly stupid.

After a walk through the neighborhood to buy bottled water, (because at this point the boys and I were becoming physically ill from dehydration), Carlos calmly told her we were going to have a friend take us to a hotel. We had told Suegra all along that we would spend some time in a hotel, so we were just going there earlier than we had planned, but Suegra acted like this option was totally unheard of. Suegra exploded with accusations and manipulations, yelling – first at Carlos, then at me, then attempting to drag the children into it.

“Tracy! Of all people, I never would have expected this from you!” she said.

We grabbed our suitcases while she cursed us to a Tío who had come by to say “hello.” We piled into the friend’s car while she called a Tía on the phone to tell her what horrible people we were. We drove off as she compared me to one of Carlos’s old girlfriends. (A woman he dated before coming to the U.S. who Suegra hated for stealing her son away from her.)

The first few hours were emotional and ugly – this isn’t what I wanted the children to remember, but I was proud of Carlos. He took care of me and the kids as he promised. He didn’t give into his mother’s manipulation. Despite what we wrestled with as we tried to sleep that first night, in the darkness of the hotel room, we agreed we wouldn’t let this ruin our time in El Salvador – and we didn’t.

A few days later Suegra called demanding that Carlos hand over her plane ticket so she could change it. She didn’t fly back with us and hasn’t spoken to us since we gave it to her, (which was another drama filled encounter.) She’s telling family members and friends that she won’t move back in with us. What she doesn’t know is that if she changes her mind and decides to stop playing games, the door is not open for her to return this time.

Yesterday Suegra had a Tía call and say she was in the hospital with chest pains due to the stress Carlos had caused her. We found out from another (more honest) Tía, that the story was completely fabricated, that Suegra never went to the hospital and was perfectly healthy.

Carlos is dealing with a lot emotionally right now. Not only is he struggling with missing El Salvador and his best friend who he became very much re-attached to, but the drama with Suegra is far from over. For one, her [former] bedroom here is still full of her things. She will eventually need to come collect her stuff, which, I can tell you from past experience, doesn’t go well. She will drag this whole situation out for years, or for the rest of her life.

Carlos understands that he deserves to be treated with respect and love, and that those who don’t treat him that way, do not deserve to be a part of his life. He knows that at some point, one has to stand up and refuse to be abused any further – It’s harder to follow through when the person being abusive is one’s own mother.


  1. Wow that’s terrible. Sounds like what we went thru with my MIL but she was at our house when hell broke loose. I hope and pray I’m not that type of MIL b/c my Dh wants hardly nothing to do with his mom bc if her ways and behavior. Good luck!

    • Lisa – I also have made it my goal not to become that kind of Suegra. It’s shocking how much power she has held to make us miserable over the years. I try to take the positive away from the situation. At least I know how NOT to treat my sons when they’re older and my future daughter-in-laws.

  2. Ay Tracy, I am sorry you and your familia had to go through such a horrible expierience. But I am glad that your hubby was able to stand up for himself and his family. It must of been so hard for him.

  3. It’s a shame the lengths some people will go to in order to make others unhappy and miserable.Good thing you didn’t let in ruin your vacation too much.

  4. Tracy, my heart aches for you, Carlos and the kids to have witnessed that kind of behavior from your suegra. The woman truly knows no boundaries. Remember that no matter what she said, you are strong and beautiful, and you and Carlos have raised two incredible boys. My advice to you is that if you truly don’t want her coming back into your home except to pack up her things, pack them up for her and put the boxes in the basement or garage so they are not a daily reminder, give the room a fresh coat of paint and go on living your lives without her there. When she does come around, if she does, cross that bridge when you come to it.

    • Thanks, Maura. It was unfortunate that the kids had to witness that, but they didn’t really bat an eyelash. With Suegra living here and causing drama all these years, they weren’t shocked. They’re getting to an age though where they ask why their grandmother doesn’t act right – they’re less forgiving and very protective of their father. They don’t like the way she treats him. I’ve never actively told the boys not to love Suegra — When they get upset with her I actually tell them, “I know, but she’s your grandmother so you should love her. She just isn’t healthy mentally.” — But they really don’t like being around her and are relieved she won’t live with us. Unfortunately, that’s something she has done herself.

      I’ll take your advice into consideration, (boxing things up.) … Though it’s a small bedroom, it will take me days or week. She’s a hoarder with things piled literally floor to ceiling in there. I also have no where to put it. We don’t have an attic, garage or basement. It’s a very small house. Not sure if renting a storage unit would be worth our money/trouble. Vamos a ver.

  5. Tracy,

    Welcome back. And I’m sorry your trip got off to such a bad start and was tainted by this unnecessary drama. From a distance here, I’m also happy for you and for Carlos. This trip obviously brought into focus, in a physical way, all the ugliness that your Suegra has brought into your lives. This was the break that you all needed and hopefully, that image of Carlos’ decrepit childhood home will remain strong in his mind and prevent him from falling prey to future manipulation and chantaje.

    Your suegra is clearly a sick person (in a clinical, emotional, mental way), you and your family have already sacrificed and compromised a lot in order to accomodate her and make her happy, but now she will either break down altogether or be forced to do some self-examination (the latter is probably less likely) and it’s time to cut ties with her until she is ready to change.

    All in all, I’m sure this was an unforgettable experience for you all and I hope it helped bring you and Carlos closer together.


    • Rubén – as usual, you’re spot on.

      She is mentally/emotionally unwell and would never seek treatment. Even if she wanted to self-examine herself, I think she lacks that ability. She isn’t introspective at all.

      I know she’ll never completely be gone from our lives, but it’s healthy for us as a family if she doesn’t live here. Like you said, we compromised a lot for many years and it isn’t getting better.

      As painful as this was for Carlos – it was necessary. His childhood was abusive and the abuse has never stopped. The house is symbolic of so much. I hope he’ll have some peace knowing he never deserved any of this. Although he didn’t have the childhood or parents he wanted, he’s been blessed in that me and the boys love and respect him.

  6. Tracy, how we love you. I’m so sorry this has turned out this way. I’m especially sad for Carlos. It’s really too bad we can’t pick our families.

    • Monica – Carlos deals with that thought a lot, (picking families) … He wonders why he was given the childhood/mother that he got. It seems unfair – but he did get to pick his second family, (me) – and the boys. I’m glad he’s at least been able to experience what a healthy, loving, mostly normal family is supposed to be like through me, my parents, sisters, etc. No family is perfect, but some of the stuff he’s been through is pretty horrible.

  7. *sigh* I’m so sorry for what happened Tracy. It’s an honorable man who stands up for his wife and his children though, and I’m so happy that you have such a man in Carlos. I’m glad he took charge of the situation and got you to a safer place so that you could enjoy the rest of your time. I know it isn’t easy but setting a boundary and sticking to it is really important. Tell Carlos “High Five!” from me.

    I love reading about your observations about El Salvador! Isn’t it funny the things we notice about others when we are in their country?

    • Thanks. I will give Carlos your “high five” :)

      More observations to come. Hopefully this is the saddest post in the series about our trip and the rest should be funnier and more interesting.

  8. That’s so tough. My suegra is not on the same level, but I can relate. It hurts my husband so much when she gets “sick” and he is on the other side of a border he can’t cross any longer. I was extremely nervous about our last visit when I would be there with the kids and this time was without my husband to run interference. Fortunately my sisters-in-law really intervened and the kids ate well, and I had been planning my time & money to clean, get supplies, etc. It was also easier to explain things to the kids in a way they wouldn’t worry, when I knew about it beforehand. It must have been a real shock to arrive expecting something like a vacation. Like you mention the person that really suffers is your husband. It’s just an awful thing because you tend to think your mother is supposed to be the person always there for you. Your husband does have you, and the kids, and friends who truly love him (even after an absence), but it’s still tough. But I think he will have a rough time for a while, and then it will be something that always hurts but not that messes with his life anymore. That is what my husband went through. There was a breaking point and his eyes were opened. But time passing did help. It actually has got to the point by now where he talks with his mom regularly but somehow keeps the mess at arm’s length. I personally grew up with physical and verbal abuse and after a long time, I now get along really well with my parents– come to think of it maybe it helps that I now live in another state– I actually have strong feelings of missing them and love it when they visit. Whether or not he can ever get to the point that he can have a good relationship with his mom with limits I hope it may help Carlos a little bit to know that other people have gone through this and although he doesn’t know us my husband and I will be keeping him in our thoughts/prayers.
    If I can make any suggestion I would encourage him to call in reinforcements to work through all logistics issues. It really helps a lot. I think suegra’s things could be removed and put in someone else’s garage or a storage unit before she returns, which may sound cold but you know what, sometimes wounds cannot heal if they keep getting reopened. Something my husband does is whenever his mom asks him for money he says ok and changes the subject, then his sister (who is a homemaker and it’s actually her brother’s money she will send) calls her and gets the story about what she is supposedly doing with her money issues. The 2-stage process seems to cut down a bit on the ridiculousness — my sister-in-law can handle it not feeling as guilty since she is a homemaker and not the breadwinner person — and it takes my husband out of the hot seat / guilt trip. Point is, when the areas of most contention are removed to other people, then when my husband and his mom talk it’s easier to keep it as a conversation. Anyway, that is what has helped in our situation. Good luck.

    • Beth, thanks a lot for this comment. It helps a lot to hear from people who have been there. I will definitely use some of your very wise tips and appreciate the thoughts/prayers.

      I think Carlos and I will come out of this the way you and your husband have but as you know, it will take time.

  9. Tracy. Hace mucho que no te dejo un comentario, pero quería decirte que siempre te leo y tu blog siempre ha sido uno de mis favoritos.
    Siento mucho el inicio tan estresante que tuvo tu viaje pero creo que aún tienes más cosas que contarnos y estoy segura que serán cosas más agradables.

    Sé que es tonto lo que voy a decirte, pero me siento tan orgullosa de tu Carlos, que leyendo viejos posts se nota lo mucho que ha crecido emocionalmente y eso es algo que me llena de alegría por ti y tus hijos.

    Tu suegra es parte de sus vidas y eso no se podrá evitar nunca, pero de verdad espero que toda esta tormenta pasé pronto y poco a poco las aguas se calmen y ella se de cuenta de cuanto importante y grandes son todos ustedes para su vida. Que sería una verdadera pena que los perdiera solamente por su actitud tan negativa.

    Mientras tanto, quiéranse mucho, respétense mucho y estén siempre unidos, que son una familia maravillosa.

    Un abrazo.
    Maricruz (Blo)

    • Hola Maricruz! Sí, hace mucho tiempo!

      Gracias por tus palabras sinceras y el abrazo, amiga. Entiendo que eres orgullosa de Carlos – yo también.

      Te prometo que tengo más cosas por compartir de nuestro viaje – y sí, son mil veces más agradables!

  10. Awful amiga! I’m so sorry! I know what that feels like and how much more terrible to happen on your vacation and at your hubby’s childhood home. Sending virtual hugs to you and kudos to your man for being so strong. It’s not easy and I know this must hurt him deeply. You don’t need the drama or deserve it and I’m so sorry that she’s left you no choice and put your family into such a terrible position. *HUGS* from my family to your familia. <3

  11. What a way to start a vacation, specially such a meaningful one.

    I am glad you guys were able to quickly get past the matter so you could enjoy the rest of your time. Her loss.

    Perhaps the silver lining in all of this is that what seems like some long time tensions with her might eventually come to a close one way or another.

    • I agree, Chele. Though this wasn’t a happy event, I definitely think that in the long run, this is all for the better.

  12. Oh Tracy, so sorry that your visit to El Salvador started so rough and will continue even after coming back!

    I really hope you got a chance to experience all the lovely El Salvador has to offer.

    Thinking of you and sending a prayer (for suegra too) that things can come to a peaceful conclusion and that she realizes how much she is hurting the family.
    Be strong!!!!

    • We definitely experienced El Salvador fully and didn’t waste a minute after that first day got us off on the wrong foot. I have plenty of happier things to share so stay tuned, amiga. Thanks for the prayer and thoughts. Abrazos!

  13. Oh Tracy, I had no idea this would be the Suegra story! Pobrecita vos! I’ve often felt bad for you and Carlos too, but this time I realized the kids were likelly being affected by it too. I’m sure this must be a difficult chapter in that whole saga, but I feel the best is just around the corner. Will be thinking of you each through this situation. I am so proud of Carlos for sticking up for you and himself.

  14. I found your blog through a FB page about bad mother in laws, and have chuckled over some of your posts. In our case, it’s my mother, who lived with us for 13 months after a long process of getting her a “green card” and I understand how it is for your husband. My husband was the US citizen and I was the immigrant (now a citizen) so for years I was apart from my mother. In that time, I had five children, and not having anyone here to help me in a grandparent role was really tough sometimes. It made me forget what my mother was really like until she came to live with us. My marriage almost didn’t make it, I’ll be honest. And even now, she’s been back in the UK with my brother for almost a year, the thought of her coming for a visit fills me with the most horrible anxiety.
    When she was here, it was so hard for me to say anything to her when she was clearly in the wrong because she saw it as me being disrespectful. If I tried to have a calm conversation about her behavior or the way we are trying to raise our children/live our lives, she would accuse my husband of having “brainwashed” me and call me “cold and unfeeling.” She didn’t speak to my husband for the last couple of months that she lived with us, and he’s the sole breadwinner. But that’s a whole other story.
    I am incredibly thankful that she is back with my brother, and not here anymore. It’s terrible that I feel that way about my own mother. The bubble that she lives in is toxic and I’m so glad to be able to breathe the fresh air again. Here’s hoping the air of your home will feel clear and fresh to you again soon too!
    I like the idea that someone else mentioned of moving her things out of your home. When my mother left, the first thing I did after dropping her off at the airport was to go into the room she’d been staying in and clear it out. It was very cathartic.

    • Thanks, Paula. I know that you, (and Carlos), are in a difficult position. It’s your mother which is a relationship we instinctually protect – yet your caught between that need and your spouse which is an equally valuable relationship, (not to mention wanting your children to be in a healthy environment emotionally — which is rare with a live-in parent.)

      Carlos’s mother made similar accusations – told him that he had changed and wasn’t loving to her, that he prefers me over her, that I changed him, that I boss him around, that I wear the pants – etc. She pushes every button she can to make him feel emasculated or guilty.

      Wishing you luck in dealing with your mother in the future. Thanks for your comment and well wishes, too.

  15. Man, she really is something!

    When I started reading your suegra stories, I figured most of them were based on culture shock and on sharing a house. I know how hard it is, I dealt with that too…

    But this goes beyond the “Latino vs. Anglo” culture shock. Your suegra really is something, she sounds pretty manipulative.

    Did she end up staying in the house? Why is it such a big faux-pas for you to stay at a hotel? I don’t get it.

    What does she really want?!

    • Zhu, some of the interactions with Suegra are simply amusing cultural differences, but my life would have been a million times easier if that’s all I was dealing with. As you can see, there’s much more to the story and since I usually try to keep things upbeat on my blog, I don’t share this ugliness for the most part. The truth is, she isn’t mentally/emotionally well and it’s caused us all a lot of pain.

      I think Suegra spent a night in the house but then she went to stay with a sister of hers.

      What did she really want? – She never said, but this is what I think. She wanted the “status” of showing us off to neighbors and friends. As much as she hates me, she loves to tell people that her daughter-in-law is an “Americana”. She wanted to stay with Carlos and for us to take her with us wherever we go, (which we had already warned her – we wanted to spend time as a family – just the four of us – me, Carlos and our boys. Apparently she was in denial and thought she’d find a way to tag along and got angry when she realized we were serious.) … She got angry that we were going to a hotel too because she knew we were spending money. Any time we spend money, she views it as money we should have given to her, (why should we give it to her when she lives with us completely rent free and we take care of all her needs, including food? – I have no idea – but she thinks we should be giving her cash.)

      Those are the somewhat logical reasons. I’m sure she has her own illogical ones, too.

  16. All I can say is WOW. I feel so bad for you and the kids, but most of all, Carlos. Suegras are tough, we all have stories to tell, but it seems like your’s take the cake. While reading this post, I kept thinking, “did Carlos provide his mother with money to maintain the house?”. Since he seems to surprised regarding the condition on the home, it must be because he must have given her money to maintain the house. My family (parents and my uncle) still own the houses I grew up in, in San Miguel, El Salvador. They send my great uncle a monthly stipend to maintain the houses. I know most people with property in ES do the same. If Carlos gave her money and she didn’t use it towards the home, shes is more than dishonest. Good luck Tracy, I’ll keep you and your family in my prayers…I know family issues are a real heartache.

    Big hug,


    • Judy, we rarely give Suegra cash directly, but she has a lot of cash because we allowed her to live with us completely rent free for many years. She doesn’t pay a single bill or buy groceries. She makes money selling jewelry, cheese, sewing, etc. Then she buys second hand good here, (name brand shoes and clothes, etc.) – and sells them in El Salvador. She has a lot of money saved though she’s secretive about it and tells everyone she’s poor so that they give her things.

      On top of that money, she receives a monthly widow’s pension from the government of El Salvador.

      If she didn’t have the money to maintain the house, I would understand – but she does, and she’s simply allowed it to deteriorate. On top of that, she lied to us for years, telling us all these improvements she made to it and how nice it was. She actually told me a week before we left for El Salvador that she had remodeled the bathroom and that it was nicer than the bathroom here in my house in the U.S. — (It wasn’t. It was comparable to a dirty gas station bathroom – and even worse than that because it didn’t have running water.)

      Like I said, either she is delusional/mentally ill, or thinks we’re stupid. (Probably both.)

      Thanks for the hug.

  17. oh wow! Esa suegrita tuya esta llena de sorpresas! Yo también espero no convertirme ni en una madre manipuladora ni en una suegra así!

    • “If you can’t be a good example, then you’ll just have to serve as a horrible warning.” – Catherine Aird

  18. My children do not like their grandmother anymore either. They don’t even want to speak to her when she calls because she bullied them and was abusive while she lived with us. The first few months after she went back to live with my brother she would call and say how much she missed them, and anger would choke up in my throat because she spent most of her time yelling at them and telling them they were not worth anything. (I was going through a mental breakdown, brought on by her coming to live with us, and did not stand up for my children the way I should have while this was going on.) It was a horrible, horrible time but I am glad to have gone through it because my eyes were opened to my mother’s true nature. I wish she would get help, and asked her to many times while she was here, after I began to get better, but she refuses to believe there is anything wrong with her. I’m the crazy one. ; ) My brother is not married and has no children, and it is sad that she has burned her bridges with her only grandchildren, but it is of her own doing. I’m sure she’ll blame me for that as the years go by. A small price to pay. At least the dysfunction stops here.

    • Breaking the cycle of dysfunction is a BIG DEAL. I’m glad you won’t be passing it on and you’ve made a healthy environment for your kids.

      My kids also put up with a lot of crap from their grandmother. We stood up for them, but it doesn’t erase what she did. For one, she always openly preferred our younger, (lighter skinned) son. It hurt our older son a lot. We told her many times to treat them equally and reassured our older son that he didn’t do anything to deserve the secondary status she gave him – but it affected his self esteem… I won’t let my kids live with that anymore. I’ve already seen what it did to Carlos.

  19. Wow Traix! has tenido una gran respuesta de parte de tus fans/amigos! realmente es una situación complicada y les deseo mucha suerte. Me da pena por Carlos ya que relamente lo noté preocupado por lo que estaba pasando. Pero bendito Dios que los tiene a uds; que no está solo en este mundo y que uds le dan en amor y respeto que necesita y MERECE!

    • Sí! Gracias a Dios por mis amigos. I’m really overwhelmed with the comment love. (Thanks to all of you for caring. It means a lot to me.)

      Tienes razón – el día cuando fuimos a visitarte, Carlos estaba pensando mucho en qué paso con su mamá – pero me dijo que hablando contigo le ha ayudado mucho. (Gracias.) … Yo también era un poco callada. Estaba enferma, (todavia estoy, fijate – what super illness did I pick up over there?!) – cansada, y preocupada por Carlos — pero encima de todo eso, estaba feliz estar en El Salvador y verte otra vez.

      Gracias otra vez por el delicioso almuerzo. Y ahora soy un addict a esas galletas. Compre unas cajas en Los Selectos y las tengo guardadas aquí :) Cuando las como, me recuerdan de ti.

  20. That is an awful story…so sad. I’m so sorry for Carlos. What an awful position to be in, but very brave to do what’s right for you and the kids. I do hope even if amends are made, that you will have your house to yourselves. Now all those stories you told in the past about her really aren’t funny to me anymore.

    • Susan, yes, beneath all the humor of the Suegra stories I told in the past, there was usually something less funny going on. I’ve always tried to be optimistic though and chose to laugh instead of cry. (Survival instinct, I guess.)

      Even if amends are made, she won’t be moving back in. I’m putting my foot down. I hate to “wear the pants” but I know that Carlos could be manipulated and made to feel guilty. There’s a small chance he would change his mind and let her back in – (it’s happened before.) I need to support the original decision we made that this is the end of the line because I know it’s healthier for him and all of us.

      It isn’t much different from a woman who stays with an abusive husband. Sometimes those who are being abused need help to pull themselves out of the situation… So while I typically take a submissive role in our traditional relationship, I will step up this time if I have to. I know Carlos wouldn’t allow anyone to abuse me – I won’t let anyone abuse him anymore either.

      However, ideally, Carlos has come to a point where he won’t need me to do that. I hope he’s gained enough self-esteem to realize he deserves better, that he has no reason to feel guilty, and that he’ll stand on his own two feet and deal with it. He’s matured a lot over the past couple years and I think he will.

  21. It’s good that you’re putting your foot down. It took my husband being brutally honest with me and letting me see that the situation could not continue as it was for all our sakes. He showed me that I was not dishonoring my mother by asking her to leave, which is how it felt to me after so many years of submitting to her will. By not standing up for myself I was really enabling her bad behavior. Blessings to you and your family!

  22. Amiga I´m so glad you´re back! And I´m really sorry about this whole Suegra debacle, I can only imagine how hard it must be on Carlos. But you must be really proud of him for how he stood his ground.
    Let him know that setting strong boundaries with his mom doesn´t mean to stop loving her. True healing and true respect comes from seeing the other person just as she is, and being able to honor all of her, even the really challenging parts of her. She will always be his mom, and for that he can keep her untouched in his heart, and then he can do the best for all (her, him and his family): set boundaries and stop the chantajes and manipulaciones.
    He can do it, it´s just hard having to do it. But you guys are a strong unit, you´ll be fine. Part of the process amiga!
    Un abrazo ENOOOORME!!!!

    • Gracias, amiga. Really wise words. I’ll make sure Carlos reads this comment.

      The guidance you provided before we left has helped more than I can say these past couple weeks – and no doubt we will keep it in mind moving forward over the next few months as well. {Abrazos!}

      PS – How are you feeling? Hope the pregnancy continues to go well!

  23. Pregnancy is going beautifully! My family left today after spending 4 days with us, so I´m really missing them. Buaaaaaa!!!! I tried to convince them to stay until the baby is born… only 4 more months! Jajajja! :D
    Ah! Y no palomitas en el correo aún. I hope the post people didn´t eat them! But if they did, at least I hope they enjoyed them.
    Mas abrazos!!!

    • So glad to hear that baby is doing well and that you had a nice visit from familia :)

      Can’t believe someone had the nerve to steal the palomitas de maiz I sent you! >:( … Bad postman. I had included a postcard from Washington DC, too… I don’t have another postcard right now, but I do have more popcorn. Will try to send another packet out to you soon. Maybe I should mislabel the customs form so no one is tempted? LOL.

  24. :( Oh Tracy, I am so sorry for this. But your husband did what was right in the face of great difficulty. I don’t even know what else to say in this situation except that he handled it with gracia and he will be rewarded for that. I know you hurt for him…it is so hard to see our strong men hurt, especially by someone we know can hurt them so deeply. Ugh. {{{Muchos abrazos}}}

  25. Good luck in the upcoming months ahead. I have lived with my inlaws and living with extended family or even anyone else is not fun at all. They moved out and I get along with them fine now. I just told my husband that I can no longer live with them. There can not be 2 woman in his life under one roof. Because as much as a MIL will say she will step aside, they really don’t. I say pack up the stuff, make it into an office or den or even a bedroom for your kids. Good luck- just don’t say anything bad. I made the mistake of saying one thing bad and it always comes up when there are fights. Ay ay ay!

  26. Oh, my hubby could totally relate to your post. He has a crazy, sometimes abusive suegra, too! I, for one, am so glad for all of you – but especially for Carlos – that he is learning to quietly but firmly break the pattern. I know how hard that is. But being gracious to his mom but firm with the boundaries protecting his family is JUST the kind of thing a man of good character learns to do. Even if it wasn’t how he used to “get by” with her. Go, Carlos! And way to be supportive and encouraging of him, Tracy! Public spouse-kudos are always nice to read.

    Que Dios te bendice.

  27. Tracy,
    So sorry to hear about the drama. I think it was good for suegra to see Carlos stand up for you and the kids. I can’t begin to imagine all he has to deal with because after all it is his mother. Luckily, you are mentally stable and giving great advice. Abuse is not acceptable, in any form! I wish you guys the best dealing with this situation! Sending you all the positive vibes one can muster up!

  28. Well thanks for sharing a bit about what went down, as hard and overwhelming as it was. I hope you all stay on the same page, which is a difficulty we (hubby and I) have at times, as one of us …(him)…has a tendency to change his mind after a bit. Which is always confusing. Or maybe it’s as he says, not that he’s changed his mind, but that I assumed or decided what was going to happen with out really letting him figure it out yet. (I tend to make quick decisions.) So good luck in putting away all the vacation items and getting your house back to “normal” lol. Only time will tell how this will all play out, but you and Carlos have all my love and support, however it works. Abrazos!!

  29. Welcome Back from El Salvador! I hope you were able to enjoy your trip despite all of the drama; I can only imagine how difficult this must be, so mucha suerte! Abrazos desde Puerto Rico

  30. Tracy, and Carlos…

    I am very sorry, but I speak from experience that sometimes cutting off, or having less contact, with a loved one is a necessary.

    It allows for time to think, reflect, hope, pray.

    Perhaps she will change, perhaps she won’t, but you cannot have a toxic/sick/sad person in your home forever…

    Good luck y besos.

  31. I applaud your husband’s actions. The whole situation could not have been easy on him but he did the right thing by taking care of you and the boys. I’m appalled at Suegra’s reaction to your husband deciding to take his family to a hotel. Sounds like she likes being in control of things and this time it didn’t work out for her.

    I know its sad but sometimes a little distance helps bring perspective in these situations with family.

    Lots of hugs to you both.

  32. Tracy, I’m so sorry. : ( What a horrible thing to have to go through after such a long-anticipated trip. I feel the worst for your husband because like you said, the most painful abuse to have to endure is that from a family member you only want to love and respect you. You’re a strong, supportive and loving wife. Carlos is lucky to have you. Hang in there. Un abrazo.

  33. Tracy espero que pronto se recuperen de esta mala pasada. No hay mal que por bien no venga, la suegra necesita tener su propio lugar donde vivir y reinar.

    Este mensaje es para Carlos: Mijo… estoy orgullosa de vos, que a pesar de todo hayas tomado las riendas y disfrutado las vacaciones con tu familia. Ahora, ponete las pilas y acordate que ya sos harina de otro costal… eso de que “juntos pero no revueltos” no siempre funciona con las suegras en medio… ya podras ayudar a tu madrecita de muchas maneras pero hoy y siempre tu mujer y tus hijos son la prioridad.

    Cuidense cipotes!


  34. Your MIL reminds me so much of mine. She passed away more than 13 years ago, but when she was alive she made our lives miserable. The damage she caused us left us with a scar in our marriage. Some people don’t care how their actions affect the ones we love. With my MIL, I think her mean behavior was out of guilt and a strong need to hold on. Unlike your Carlos, my DH defended and still defends her horrible ways. (That scar is deep.)

    I wish you well Tracy and hope that your MIL won’t have an opportunity to drag things on. Maybe her stuff can be shipped to her? Un abrazo!

  35. My goodness. I didn’t realize…Well, Carlos really stepped up and took care of you and the kids. That’s wonderful. I’m so glad. That was quite a start to your vacation. I’m sorry. Take care! We were thinking of you and hoping for the best while you were in El Salvador.

  36. Wow Tracy! Are you sure you were in Soyapando and not at my mom’s house?

    My mother is kind of like that too, manipulative and with crazy demands, and has make our visits to El Salvador difficult at times, She locked my sister out of her house, after she convincer her to stay with her, because my sister went to visit my dad and his family. Last time I went, we were planning to stay at a hotel to avoid episodes like the one with my sister and because I wanted time alone with my husband and be able to come and go as we pleased, but no! mom threw a tantrum and started a whole psychological campaing about we snubbing her and how hard she had worked on putting the house in a nice state so we could stay with her…So we gave in, but with clear statements that we will stay with her and will be respectful of her rules, but we will visit who we wanted, (She still wasn’t talking to my sister or my father) and we will take her with us to some places, but we will also go by ourselves other times too! It worked ok but my husband got upset a couple of times, especially the day we were supposed to leave, my mother got up really early, before us, and went to church, locking us in without leting us know at what time she was coming back …and we needed to leave to the airpot! Even with all her quirquiness, I love my mom and if I could, I will go and stay with her more often, as I live in constant fear that one day I will receive the awful call that she is no longer with us.

    It is not that all suegras are crazy manipulative persons, or that hispanic women become mentally ill when in their old age, I believe that is has more to do with the fact that they realize that they cannot hold on to their kidsany more , like when we were children and we did as we were told without questioning!

  37. Wonderful post! As a Latina born in the US, I can say that although this drama probably was uncomfortable for your kids, it was probably memorable and something they might laugh at one day. In a strange way, these experiences are recuerdos we hold on to and show a different side of our culture. BTW, your suegra sounds like my friend’s mom! The similarities had me cracking up!

  38. a mother is a mother even if she is a bitch she is his mother living in soyapango is complicated fuck the bullshit america is the biggest theif and if you truelly study history many countrys are the way they are today because of the u.s

    • She is still his mother and always will be, but no one should accept being abused. For the record, Carlos is not the one who has destroyed the relationship – she has cut off communication and told him she is no longer his mother — not the other way around. When my suegra doesn’t get her way, she acts like this. Carlos has done a lot for her and she has never shown any gratitude – this is nothing new.

      Living in Soyapango is very difficult – that is where my husband grew up — but my Suegra does not live there despite still having a house there. She spends most of her time in Chalatenango and in the United States, so she is not abandoned and living in poverty by any stretch of the imagination. She flies back and forth at least once a year and is a U.S. Permanent Resident, (thanks in part to me writing a letter to the Embassy when she couldn’t even renew her visa.)

      As for many countries being the way they are due to actions by the United States, I agree with you, so why the hostility and cursing towards me? I have nothing but love for El Salvador and I know my history well. I am aware of what side the United States took during the civil war and the impact it has had on El Salvador. These are not my own individual actions so I think it would be ignorant of you to take it out on me simply because I was born here.

  39. What struck me about your story is what I have been trying to deal with and understand in my own famiy. I am of Salvadorean descent born and bred in NYC trying to understand the high drama that the woman in my family put on display for years. It has to be a cultural thing, I feel the people in the country, even though they are exposed to technology and education have a totally different way of thinking. Overall there is an underlying mentality filled with Catholic guilt, Machismo ideologies, and sexism. (not all of course, but most) My grandmother was the same way as your suegra. She dictated to my father how he should run his family from El Salvador. Sadly my dad was not as strong as your Carlos. As a child feeling my grandmothers guilt trips and wrath from so many miles away, I can tell you that I wish for an instant I would of seen my father do what Carlos did. My dads life, our lives, would of turned out so much better. Bravo Carlos!

    • Chita, I really feel for you. Having my suegra under our roof for 10 years was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever gone through. Carlos standing up for himself and his family is one of the best things that ever happened to us, as a couple and as a family – and I believe, for him as an individual. It’s absolutely life changing for that boundary to finally be drawn and kept in place no matter the consequence. (Because he had drawn this boundary between himself and his mother before, but was manipulated and guilted into taking it back.)

      Regardless of ethnicity or relationship, any person who rules another person’s life like this, through manipulation, guilt tactics, psychological and emotional abuse – is WRONG – and this type of abusive behavior has serious consequences not just on the individual, but that individual’s spouse and children, (as you experienced.)

      I second your “Bravo Carlos!” – I’m so proud of him and I hope that this story inspires others to establish boundaries and not just let this kind of thing go on because it’s the cultural “normal.”

      Thanks so much for your heartfelt words. I wish things could have been different for you. I showed your comment to Carlos and it made him feel really good, and I think it reminded him that he should be proud of himself – that he really has done an amazing thing for himself and us, his family.

  40. Your suegra sounds like my mom. Eleven years ago I had to take my hubby’s side and told my mom to move out of our home. Our moms forget that our obligation is with our spouse and children. I will try to be a better suegra when the time comes hopefully no time soon 8-)

Note: You are not required to sign in to leave a comment. Please feel free to leave the email and/or website fields blank for an easier commenting experience.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.